Michelle Nash, mom of three, child development expert and founder of 7 Days of Play (@7daysofplay) shares some interesting thoughts on parenting, development and playtime!
What are your favorite sensory play items?
Sensory play is so much fun to do with babies in particular! Taste-safe sensory bases (technically edible) are easy to make and can be as simple as a tray of water! My favorite would have to be a taste-safe foam made out of the water that comes in a can of chickpeas! It makes the most creamy foam which is a great baby-safe alternative to soap!
What advice would you give moms wanting to incorporate more playful learning? How should they start?
New parents who want to integrate playful learning in their home should first think about the things their kiddos really love at the moment. For example, if you have a car fan, you can easily take those toys and present them in a way that allows for some solid at-home learning (like learning colors and counting!).
Why is it so important to encourage children to explore their senses?
Sensory play has so many educational benefits for kids. When they feel different textures, they are actively interacting with their environment. This causes their mind to create new connections and grow. Sensory play is also great for working on fine motor skills, too. Every time the kids scoop, pinch, pat, or just squeeze anything in this sensory activity, they’re using their hands, eyes, and other senses to learn. These are skills that they can quickly grow upon as they get older and will use in their everyday lives.
What first started your interest in sensory play/playful learning?
My kids are really close in age! Before they started school I had a 3 year old, 2.5 year old and a newborn at home, so we had to stay busy or else everyone would be bouncing off the walls! I discovered that sensory play and playful learning was the best way to engage them and hold their attention spans!
Favorite craft to make with your kids?
For us, crafting has become the most fun once the kids developed the fine motor skills to do most of the project themselves. This kicked in around 3 and 4. The older they get, the more independent they are and the more you can see their true creativity emerge. I personally love crafts with handprints because they become instant keepsakes!
Most important thing parents should know about playful learning?
Have fun! The beauty of playful learning is that kids are having so much fun they don’t even realize the solid learning they are absorbing during the process!
Michelle Nash is the founder of 7 Days of Play, a website dedicated to providing parents with useful ideas for safe and developmentally beneficial learning tools and toys, all based on children’s interests and ages. To learn more, visit 7daysofplay.com or follow Michelle on Instagram at @7daysofplay.
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